Justice League Is The Only Movie To Get Batman & Joker’s Story Right
Zack Snyder’s Justice League understands the endless nature of Batman and Joker’s conflict, unlike the rest of their non-DCEU live-action iterations.
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The Knightmare future of Zack Snyder’s Justice League proved that, despite the lack of interaction between the two, Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker had the most accurate relationship out of all the live-action interpretations of both iconic DC characters. Batman and Joker are perhaps the most famous enemies in the history of comics. The Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince of Crime have hated each other for more than 80 years worth of comic books, movies, shows, and video games. Yet, fans still can’t get enough of their eternal enmity.
The popularity of Batman and Joker’s conflict has led to various different depictions of the duo in live-action. But from Michael Keaton’s Batman and Jack Nicholson’s Joker short-lived battle in Tim Burton’s Batman, to Christian Bale’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Joker leaving a rematch pending in The Dark Knight, and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker directly setting up young Bruce Wayne’s Batman origin story, no live-action version of the duo has kept their conflict going for more than one movie. Heath Ledger’s Joker described Batman and Joker’s relationship perfectly when he said “I think you and I are destined to do this forever”. However, this promise was never fulfilled.
The only time Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker were shown interacting on-screen up until the theatrical cut of Justice League was in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, and it was only in the flashback scene that established Harley Quinn’s past with the Joker and the Dark Knight. But in 2021, the Snyder Cut included a last-minute addition of Leto’s Joker in the Knightmare future. Apart from suggesting a tragically unjust ending to Harley Quinn’s DCEU story, Joker’s presence proved that he was, in fact, destined to keep chasing Batman well after the apocalypse itself.
Powerful heroes like Aquaman and Wonder Woman were defeated in the Knightmare future. Superman succumbed to the Anti-Life Equation, and the absence of characters such as Shazam, Black Adam, Martian Manhunter, the Suicide Squad, and the Green Lanterns suggests they all lost the battle as well. And yet, the Joker managed to outlive the most powerful individuals in the galaxy only to haunt Batman during Earth’s last moments.
Joker’s role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League may have been small, but it said a lot about his status as Batman’s archnemesis. The DCEU had already amplified Joker and Batman’s feud as early as in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where Robin’s defaced costume revealed why the DCEU’s Batman was so brutal. The Snyder Cut of Justice League only needed to show that Joker and Batman would still hate each other in a post-apocalyptic future, while Dawn of Justice didn’t even need to show the Joker at all to establish that their bad blood.
These considerably small hints at Batman and Joker’s DCEU history could have been the basis for a movie centered on their conflict. Unfortunately, the arrival of the multiverse in The Flash and the upcoming The Batman reboot means that Zack Snyder’s Justice League was the last fans could see of Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker. Still, the debut of yet another live-action iteration of the Dark Knight hasn’t stopped many DC fans from wondering what is the history between Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Watne and The Batman’s version of the Joker.